Financial consultants work for financial institutions or as self-employed professionals helping clients manage their finances. These professionals usually need a bachelor's degree in order to enter the field.
Financial consultants work with clients to develop individualized financial plans for savings, retirement, investments and insurance. They spend much of their time marketing their business and recruiting new clients. Many become both certified in financial planning and licensed to sell financial products.
|Required Education||Bachelor's degree|
|Additional Requirements||State license; voluntary certification may be required by some employers|
|Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)*||30% for personal financial advisors|
|Median Salary (2015)*||$89,160 annually for personal financial advisors|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)
Financial Consultant Job Description
Financial consultants work with companies or individuals to plan for their financial futures by offering information and guidance on topics that include taxes, investments and insurance decisions. Often called financial advisors, these consultants work closely with clients to offer personalized financial advice. Consultants may also direct the buying and selling of stocks and bonds for their clients. Some consultants work for consulting firms that focus on the financial needs of specific businesses or industries.
Duties of a Financial Consultant
Consultants meet personally with clients to assess their financial situation in order to present a financial plan that includes both short- and long-term financial goals. Consultants help clients with financial planning decisions for retirement, education, day-to-day expenses and investments. They meet regularly with clients to assess how life changes such as marriage, job change or the birth of a child will affect the client's financial plan. In addition, many consultants are licensed to buy and sell financial products such as insurance policies, stocks and bonds.
Consultants spend much of their time reaching out to prospective clients and building a strong customer base. This means consultants often travel or work non-traditional hours to meet with clients in their homes or businesses. Consultants may also offer financial planning classes or seminars to reach out to potential clients.
Financial consultants have a bachelor's or graduate degree. Some colleges and universities offer degrees in financial consulting. Others offer more generalized degrees for those wanting to enter this career path. Prospective financial consultants earn degrees in finance, math, business or economics as preparation for the field.
Certifications, such as the Certified Financial Planner (CFP) credential help consultants improve their professional standing and are looked on favorably by employers. The Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards issues the certification, which requires applicants to have three years of relevant experience and a bachelor's degree. In addition, applicants must pass a comprehensive exam that covers key aspects of the financial planning process. Furthermore, candidates for certification must adhere to a code of ethics and complete 30 hours of continuing education every two years in order to remain current in the ever-changing field of financial planning.
Consultants must be licensed and registered with their particular state and the Securities Exchange Commission if they sell securities. The variety of licenses needed by financial consultants depends on the products they wish to offer their clients. Those who sell insurance products must also be licensed by a state board.
Salary and Job Outlook
As of 2015, the median annual wage for personal financial advisors, a career related to that of financial consultants, was $89,160, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The BLS projects employment in this field will grow much faster than average during the 2014-2024 decade, at a rate of 30%.
While a bachelor's degree in a finance-related field is an essential job requirement for financial consultant, licensing may also be required if they sell securities. Certification is available and may enhance career prospects, though it's usually voluntary. Earning a master's degree is another way for financial consultants to bolster their resumes.